Today, more than ever before, it is becoming clear that most courts in America are unable to deal with the ever increasing number of cases within their jurisdictions, bringing into motion an intense and elaborate debate on which court case management system should be adopted to deal with backlog (Dressel, 2010; Peak, 2009).
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According to the case scenario, the court in question has been using a “hybrid” combination involving individual and master case-management systems, but is still unable to keep up with the mounting caseload and associated difficulties. The present paper looks into the problems and advantages that may arise in using the individual case management system and permanently assigning a judge to the juvenile division of the court.
Available literature demonstrates that, “in a direct calendar or independent calendar system, cases are assigned at the beginning of the case to a designated judge, who then handles all pretrial conferences and motions up and through trial” (Seabolt, 2008, p. 6). As such, a major problem arising within this case assignment system relates to lack of a centralized information sharing protocol, which in turn makes it hard for other users to access important case information or case scheduling details (Peak, 2009).
This problem may occasion further case backlogs within the juvenile division, particularly in the event that case details are needed by other players within the court system. Additionally, owing to lack of synchronized scheduling and posting capabilities, the judge may encounter the risk of conflicting calendars and the consequences related to this particular problem (Dressel, 2010)
Existing court management scholarship documents several advantages related to individual calendar case assignment system. For example, the permanent assigning of a judge to the juvenile division will assist the court to develop the capacity to deal with complex cases that require “consistent, continuous judicial management and intervention from beginning to end” (Seabolt, 2008, p. 6). Another advantage relates to the system’s capacity to achieve optimal case outcomes owing to the anticipation that the assigned judge will devote the necessary time and effort to become familiar with the juvenile cases within the court’s jurisdiction.
Additionally, the individual calendar case assignment system will enable the court to save scarce financial, human, and material resources in the context of dispensing juvenile cases within the court’s jurisdiction. While the master calendar system requires a lot of financial and personnel resources to operationalize, the individual system uses only one judge to move the case forward, hence saving a lot of resources for the court (Seabolt, 2008).
Lastly, permanently assigning a judge to the juvenile division of the court will ensure the continuity of cases and save the court a lot of time which is otherwise wasted on briefing new judges on the factual background and legal issues surrounding continuing cases. Indeed, the assigned judge will have a better opportunity to utilize available resources due to the system’s capacity to establish the exact caseload for the judge (Dressel, 2010). As such, it may be the right methodology to use in dealing with issues of case delay and backlog within the juvenile division.
To conclude, this paper has illuminated the various problems and advantages associated with permanently assigning a judge to the juvenile division of the court. The benefits outweighs the problems, hence the need to implement the decision with the view to addressing the mounting case load and attendant case backlog issues.
Dressel, W.F. (2010). Court organization and effective caseflow management: Time to redefine. Web.
Peak, K. (2008). Justice administration (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Seabolt, R. (2008, April 10). Direct effect. Los Angeles Daily Journal. Web.